Executive Insight, Outage Management, Policy & Regulation, T&D, Transmission

Lethal Oklahoma tornado leaves thousands still without electric power

Emergency responders are looking for survivors and utility work crews are cleaning up power grid damage following a series of tornado-producing storms that tore a swath of damage through Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City suburb of Moore was among the worst-hit areas, in terms of death and damage.

The tornado killed 24 people, including 9 children. It also destroyed two elementary schools and a hospital.

About 35,000 customers reported outages in Oklahoma and Eastern Arkansas at the peak of storm damage, according to reports. Damage to the power supply is particularly bad in Ardmore and Moore in Oklahoma and in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

According to the outage tracker on Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s (OG&E’s) website, the following communities are still attempting to restore power (All locations are in Oklahoma unless otherwise noted):

Moore: 18,719

Mansfield: 2,169

Oklahoma City: 1,741

Ardmore: 1,559

Kellyville: 1,430

Konawa: 1,285

Fort Smith, Arkansas: 869

Byng: 536

Norman: 302

Van Buren, Arkansas: 281

Wellston: 103

Poteau: 97

Ozark, Arkansas: 94

Davis: 82

Charleston, Arkansas: 73

AEP‘s Public Service Co. of Oklahoma reports 117 customers out of power in Tulsa County and 452 customers out of power in Caddo County.

Additional work crews are being called up from Texas and Louisiana to assist with the power restoration effort. There are no time estimates on the restoration, according to OG&E.

Southwest Power Pool spokesperson Tom Kleckner said the utilities are currently working on the damage, but the overall electricity supply for the region is stable and there are no reliability issues. SPP is the independent system operator for the area.

President Barack Obama has spoken with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and has pledged the full resources of the federal government to the recovery effort. FEMA has activated search and rescue teams from Nebraska, Texas and Tennessee.

Energy companies are pledging money to the relief effort. Chesapeake Energy Corp. will make a cash donation of $1 million to storm relief and the The OGE Energy Corp. Foundation pledged $500,000. Both companies have their headquarters in Oklahoma City.

The tornado followed a strikingly similar path to a destructive tornado that struck in May 3, 1999. That tornado took apart transmission towers and severed four of the five major power lines that served Oklahoma City. OG&E reported about $15 million in damage from that storm.